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Monday, January 8, 2007

The Contenders: Hillary Clinton

posted by on January 8 at 9:05 AM

Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.

hr_clinton.jpg

Hillary Clinton

Party: Democratic

Age: 59

Status: Undeclared

http://clinton.senate.gov

No one, Democrat or Republican, has generated more ink in the run-up to the run-up to the 2008 presidential election than Hillary Rodham Clinton and she hasn’t even declared her candidacy (although everyone assumes she will soon).

For political journalists and pundits, part of the attraction to writing about Hillary Clinton is that she’s such a rich topic: She’s an automatic front-runner if she enters the race; she’d be the first woman president ever; she’s a “polarizing personality” who has nevertheless won fans in the red parts of New York State; she’s smart as hell and, by the admission of many Republicans, a formidable force in the Senate; and she’s married to Bill Clinton, ex-president, ex-philanderer, current international do-gooder, and constant object of fascination, demonization, and idolization.

Can she win? Should she run? Is she a selfish distraction from better candidates? Does Obama have a better chance? If you’re hanging out with Democrats, you’re hearing all of these questions and more, constantly.

And so is she. Here’s Hillary herself talking recently about Obama:

Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in Chicago in 1947 to a Methodist family. As a child she was fond of sports. As a Girl Scout she earned lots of awards. In 1964, she campaigned for Republican candidate Barry Goldwater. In 1969, having switched parties, she graduated from Wellesley College with a BA in Political Science. She then entered Yale Law School, where she began dating Bill Clinton. In her summers, she worked for Senator Walter Mondale, assisting a subcommittee on migrant workers. Later she worked for George McGovern’s presidential campaign.

In 1975, two years after graduating from Yale, she married Bill Clinton and moved with him first to Fayetteville Arkansas, and then to Little Rock where he was elected as governor in 1978. By that time she was the first woman to be made full partner at Little Rock’s Rose Law Firm. In 1980, Chelsea Clinton was born.

Something of a feminist, Hillary only began attaching the surname “Clinton” to her own name during her husband’s second gubernatorial bid, in 1982. She was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984, and throughout her time as First Lady of Arkansas continued to practice law with the Rose Law Firm.

When Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, Hillary became the first first-lady to hold a post-graduate degree and the first to have a successful career of her own. Even more ground-breaking, Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to the powerful Task Force on National Health Care reform. However, the body’s recommendations failed to gain traction in either the House or the Senate, resulting in the well-known “Hillarycare? debacle.

Hillary won a race for the U.S. Senate in New York in 2000, and again in 2006. As senator, she sits on the Committee on Armed Services; the Committee on Environment and Public Works; the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and the Special Committee on Aging.

Clinton voted for the war in Iraq but has been critical of the way the war has been conducted. She’s pro-choice, in favor of domestic partnership rights for gays and lesbians, and against the Federal Marriage Amendment. She supports three-strikes sentencing, the Kyoto Protocol, and gun control. She’s against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Her record in the Senate has been lauded by people on both sides of the aisle, leading many, including journalist Chris Smith, in a recent New York Magazine article, to wonder why she would want to give it all up and deal with a bruising campaign in which stuff like this would come to look tame:

It’s a good question, and one likely to be answered in the coming months.

(With research help from super-star intern Sage Van Wing)

Previously: John Edwards, John McCain, Bill Richardson, and Mitt Romney.

RSS icon Comments

1

It’s ridiculous and embarrassing that we haven’t had a woman for President yet. That said, Hillary Clinton is not that person.

I’m most concerned with her unwillingness to take strong stands even if they’re unpopular (see her refusal to support marriage equality or end the Iraq War) and her seeming over reliance on polling data to determine where she stands on the issues. She’s just too Machiavellian and calculating and often resorts to political pandering. Just look at her support of a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, which would surely end the epidemic crisis of flag burning going on all over the US.

Not to mention the fact that I’m sick of dynastic presidencies. We’ve had a Bush or a Clinton on the tickets since 1980! No, it’s time to wipe the slate clean get fresh people with new ideas in the White House.

Posted by Original Andrew | January 8, 2007 9:30 AM
2

Hillary Clintons Hot. Yay I'll vote for her shes sexxxy for her age.
MEEEOW. Vote for Hillary over here.
Thats all i hear about Obama. But I like woman and I'm going throwing support for her cause shes cool and calm under pressure. Remember she restrained herself from kicking Bill in the Balls after he cheated on her and Whoa a woman scorned remember all that. So she will not be very anxiuos to get us in another major war because our feelings got hurt. Besides foregn governments dont' give a rats ass if we have a dynasty or not. They just want USA to have good leaders. And maybe when they see Woman leading They will realize we speak the truth about Equality for gender roles over here.
I'm getting bored with male presidents too.

Posted by sputnik | January 8, 2007 10:00 AM
3

I agree with Original Andrew. We have to move beyond the Bush/Clinton era. But if the Dems play their cards right and Bush keeps screwing up we may have a female President sooner than we think..... ((evil laugh for the good guys!))

Posted by Andrew | January 8, 2007 10:06 AM
4

Of course if she gets in you can say goodbye to videgames/rap/any other artform that a moral panic can be drummed up against.

Posted by Art | January 8, 2007 10:11 AM
5

Kucinich will do better in Iowa than Hillary Clinton.

Posted by DOUG. | January 8, 2007 10:17 AM
6

What do you mean Art? Whats she got against Video games and music?
I thought she was down. I mean her husband played Sax during his election.

Posted by sputnik | January 8, 2007 10:19 AM
8

I like her. She's shown a lot of class in the face of the ridiculous conservative shitstorm that has been thrown in her face continously since 1990.

But I agree that we need to get beyond the Bush/Clinton/Bush string.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | January 8, 2007 11:28 AM
9

Personally, most of us are waiting for Gore/Obama.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 8, 2007 11:37 AM
10

OMG, that Jon Stewart clip is priceless. "That look is where boners go to die."

Anyway, on to Hillary...


I'm torn. She has been a magnet for the most vile vitriol from the right for years, and I had long thought she was unelectable. However, several recent polls have shown that she is electable. She leads all of the Dem and Rep candidates in an open field, and she leads when polled specifically against any of the presumed leading individual Republicans. So the idea that she is unelectable appears to be largely a product of the right wing smear machine, and not based in reality. Now I feel badly for buying into it. These are early polls, and the election is a long way off, but they do show that if she campaigns well, it is a realistic possibility that she could win. Her candidacy is not a pipe dream.

As an individual, there are parts of her I like, and parts I don't. I actually admired her a lot for her attempt to reform health care in the early 1990s. She got beat up pretty badly, but I think she was way ahead of her time. Health care reform is on everybody's mind now, and everyone acknowledges that it has only gotten worse in the intervening years. Many of the reforms she was lambasted for 15 years ago are now being looked at more seriously.

On the down side, she hasn't got nearly the charisma that her husband had (nor Obama, nor most of the other Dem candidates), and I am becoming more and more convinced that basic charisma plays more of a roll in the final election than any of us admit. She may have money, smarts, party backing, and name recognition, but she can't fake charisma. Lack of charisma is what killed Gore and Kerry. Going back farther, it clearly killed Mondale and Dukakis too.

Hillary is also the early "establishment" candidate. That is a good and bad thing. Running a presidential race takes a LOT of money. Grass roots helps a lot, and I think it is a great thing, but grass roots alone will never get anyone to the white house. To win the general election, the primary winner will need the full financial backing of the Democratic establishment. Unfortunately that money comes with ties to focus groups and position polling, which always seems to lead to the dumming down and muting of the candidate, and the complete unwillingness to take a controversial stand on anything of substance. This is a long term failing that the Democrats seem to excel at on a national level. Hillary seems to be eagerly buying right into it. I can't imagine her coming out in support of full marriage rights for gays, for example, regardless of what her personal feeling is on the matter.

Right now I can maybe see myself voting for her, but without much enthusiasm. I'm hoping that another candidate can beat her that I'd be more enthusiastic about.

Posted by SDA in SEA | January 8, 2007 12:39 PM
11
Posted by Alexander | January 8, 2007 3:55 PM
12

The more time that goes by the bigger 'Hillary for President' fan I become. I have always liked Hillary but like many had my questions about whether she would be good for the country as a whole, whether she could win, etc.

Then I questioned her when she seemed to be getting a little freaky right in her attempts at the politics of inclusion.

I think she is smart enough to win and to lead this nation. There will always be 30% of the electorate who will hate her (probably the same people who still support Bush) but I really do not care about placating those people by offering up some dumb ass who we think appeals more to southern red state voters.

Hillary can concentrate on the Urban vote and I really do believe there will be some women who will jump over to vote for her.

I like Hillary, She is strategic, hardworking, practical. She is both visionary and survivor. She is methodical and spirited. I like these qualities in a leader and I do think she could win. I think people will be a lot more excited about her than another John Kerry or Al Gore (or Walter Mondale, or Michael Dukakis, etc.,etc.)

Her biggest battle will be the press and reversing her image with them. Right now she is my number one. Obama and Edwards are still on my list. I need to know a lot more about Obama. And for now I like Hillary better than John edwards. Gore, Kerry, Richardson and other such candidates are not even on my list. Is there someone else out there? Some unknown who will take down the current leaders of the pack?

If I had to vote today my vote would be with Hillary and I feel like my support for her a 'President Hillary Clinton' is growing everyday.

Posted by HillaryFan | January 8, 2007 4:38 PM
13

I agree Hillaryfan. Those that go on and on about how she's no good contender are the likes of Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh. I sometimes tune in and all I hear is them blasting her about everything. Same as from some of the Bush haters in this forum. Are we going to stick it to the repubs who want archaic woman rights and are against abortion and that men should run the presidency or are we going to get with the times and realize this women has the power to lead this country. If the the Left can handle it. Because I know the Right hasn't. When it comes down to it also this debate about Gay rights is getting old. She'll go for it but its not a major issue in peoples lives so Stranger stop making it one. Blacks, women , gays and people against the war, on drugs or foriegn countries are the matter at hand. Give her a break. She'll get to your problem when the rest of us can get our lobbyists and lawmakers to put out a decent argument for it. The gay marriage argument is just going to choke the country into another cycle of elction debate and I'm sorry to say thats not going to be what elcts the next President. Shutting a candidate out because their soft in what this stranger says is valid for the country to them is mute, compared to the other major reasons to run this country are. You wan't feta with your pizza go to an italian restaurant. get it.
I'm for whatever hijinks people to get married or not, jesus you can marry your sister if you really wanted to.
Just get over it when you choose your heros , keep up some pressure, but don't let it destroy them either. Or we'll have another boogeman of the Repub GOP take over. You better convince the rest of America that Gay marriage is a hot topic and maybe I'll chaNGE MY OPINION. Hillary for 2008. shes hot. Obama for vice. Hey Mrt. Clinton. Guess whos coming for dinner.

Posted by sputnik | January 8, 2007 5:02 PM
14

SDA and HillaryFan:

On Charisma,

I don't think any of the candidates have Bill's. Obama and Edwards certainly can give a stemwinder. But don't discount Hillary Clinton. She had enough charisma to get herself into Life Magazine in 1969 for a valedictorian speech. And she's got a 20 minute applause for a speech at a U.N. conference. So clearly she can move people.

Posted by Stephen Phillips | January 8, 2007 7:08 PM
15

I look forward to a Republican Presidential campaign dominated by this single theme & message - "Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster."

Republicans will try to turn it into a popularity contest... which is a mistake because people by and large like and admire Hillary Clinton.

Posted by Aexia | January 8, 2007 8:16 PM
16

Are any of the candidates that have been profiled here against the War on Drugs?

Posted by Andrew Hitchcock | January 8, 2007 11:13 PM

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